It’s the Monday of O-Week. A storm is headed towards Forsyth Barr Stadium, not quite as forceful as Gita, but just as dreaded. A storm of freshers. The PM Cindy Ardern herself is making a speech to the 4000 fresh faces. Despite spending their first night of O-Week bored shitless and sober, there is a lot of love for the woman that just delivered them a fees-free year.
Not everyone is excited to see her. Outside the ceremony the group OSATCPTPP (Otago Students Against the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) are protesting. The lot of them probably voted last year to change the Government, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to communicate their disappointment in the new PM and Government.
While in opposition, the Labour party was against the shady trade agreement, sans “CP”, then called the TPPA. Now in power, and with some half-assed changes to the agreement, the new Government is gearing up to sign it. Apparently some (not all) of the parts of the agreement that past anti-TPPers had issue with have been suspended. But as Will Dryer, member of OSATCPTPP, pointed out in his speech to protest onlookers, “as any teacher with a troublesome student knows - suspension is not forever”.
The turnout was shit, only fifteen people turned up. O-Week clearly isn’t the time to rally the students. Regardless, Will notes that the convocation ceremony was the perfect place to begin anti-CPTPP action. The stadium was full with a new generation of fees-free students, supposedly a symbol of the change that a progressive Government can bring to New Zealand.
Should students just shut up and be grateful for the changes that Labour have already made for us? Will and co. say “fuck no”. It might not be the first protest against the new Government (ACT beat them to it with Seymour’s Charter School whine), but it sets the tone for the left at Otago Uni. The new Government can’t just chuck money at students and expect them to roll over (though the money certainly helps).